03 February 2012

What I Read This Week (Friday Special)

My friend Libby started posting what she read every week with short snappy "reviews" (reviewlets?) about them. I think this is a good idea, and also alleviates the burden of wanting to talk about a book, but not wanting to spend a WHOLE lot of time with it. I'm not going to actually give up my full length rants and raves, but I'd like to do this on a regular basis in order to keep me posting. So, without further ado:

1. Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen: Now, before you all decide I've lost it and turn from me in order to restore my soul from the devil, I want you to know that it was for book club and the discussion is being led by my zumba partner. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was NOT a romance novel. It did have some explicit scenes I don't personally enjoy reading. It was funny, but I was laughing when I thought I probably shouldn't be actually laughing. It's a revenge story, so I really shouldn't give too much away. But I actually don't think you should read it anyway so *spoiler ahead* Charles Perrone attempts to kill his wife, Joey by pushing her overboard. She miraculously survives, and spends the rest of the book with the ex-cop who found her in the sea, planning revenge on her husband. There are various quirky subplots, one (which I actually kind of liked) was the story of Charles's bodyguard Tool. Tool is a former ruthless crew boss turned bodyguard hired by Charles's boss (a farmer whose questionable farming methods are killing the Florida everglades) to protect Charles from mysterious happenings (perpetuated by Joey). Tool's redemption comes when he meets a kind old lady dying of cancer who he meant to steal drugs from, but ended up loving her as a mother. Another sub-plot is the detective assigned to investigate the disappearance of Joey Perrone. He is a former Minnesota native, who desperately wants to go back to Minnesota since he hates Florida. He also keeps two pythons (yay!) to the chagrin of his fellow apartment dwellers.
Lest I make this story sound too funny to miss, I want you to know that there are countless explicit sex scenes and language that would make a marine blush (no offense marines!). So, if you are a clean reader...as I tend to be SKIP THIS BOOK!

2. Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery: Ahhhh, this was more like it! I almost finished this book in one evening. That's not necessarily an endorsement, but it DOES show how enjoyable I found it. The book is mainly made up of letters from Anne to her beloved Gilbert. Anne took a year (few years?...now I'm forgetting) and taught at Summerside High School. She takes up residence with two widows and their maid Rebecca Dew. All of the characters are just as exasperating and funny and quirky and cute as most of Montgomery's characters. Anne's biggest obtacle at Windy Poplars is the town's biggest most influential family: The Pringles. Unbeknownst to Anne, she took the position of schoolteacher away from a Pringle, thus earning her eternal enmity from the clan. She eventually wins them over, but in a very amusing way, and this book I'd like everyone to read so I won't tell how. I know I'm a minority in this, but I LOVE books that are written like letters! So, this one was a keeper.

3. Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery: Anne and Gilbert are finally married. This was very exciting to me since I almost yelled at Anne when she tore off the necklace Gilbert had given her in Anne of Avonlea. Ok, maybe I did actually yell...out loud...and worried my little sister. They have moved to Four Winds Harbour where Gilbert has begun his medical practice. A new cast of characters is paraded through. My particular favorite is Leslie Moore who married an awful man at her mother's request. Her husband, Dick is currently suffering from amnesia due to a loss at sea. He lives with Leslie and is no longer terrible, but she is now tied to someone she doesn't love....or is she? Read this book to find out! That sounded like a terrible commercial, but that was a nice little side story. This book is heavy (for Montgomery) which means it does deal with many real life tragedies but in soft enough ways that you wouldn't worry too much about a young person reading it....or yourself. I feel like I've admitted enough that I am a clean reader.

4. Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery: I know. Another Montgomery, but you all knew I was doing this reading challenge anyway. This one was apparently written well after the first five books, and I kind of thought it showed. Not that I liked it any less. I loved it! There was just a tangible gap. Anne is almost a little less in the spotlight, though she and Gilbert do have some "conflict." The focus has shifted onto Anne and Gilbert's children and their different personalities. Another good one!

5. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Lest you worry that I only read fluff, I read this book. This book will leave you breathless and a little overwhelmed, but it's good. It's the heavy stuff we probably should think about. It's a bildungsroman (if I might be so bold) set in Nigeria at a time of unstable political climate. I didn't actually do much research on dates, and it's not entirely clear the exact dating of the book was supposed to be. It doesn't matter that much because it is a novel about change really. Fifteen year old Kamibili and her brother, Jaja are children of a wealthy and well-respected business and newspaper owner named Eugene and his wife (their mother) Beatrice. Eugene though a prominent member of the Catholic church and a generous and respected man in the community, is perpetuating a reign of terror in the walls of his home. In attempts to save his children, he punishes them in horrifying ways. The story tracks the growing up process of Kambili, and while her country breaks free of tyranny, we watch her do the same.
There are things I don't like about this book. Like, the abuse. If you are wondering how bad this gets, it's pretty bad. If you have a more sensitive nature and know you aren't going to be able to handle it, or if you are a young-ish person, I'd recommend waiting or just skipping. It's not so bad that the message of freedom can't redeem it, but it's there and it's something to be aware of. Also, WHY does every religious dad in every book or movie have to be the worst person ever? I wonder if people's conception of "religious people" would change if there were kinder, gentler (particularly male) examples in the media. I, being a Christian, and knowing what the bible teaches about works-based salvation, question whether Eugene was actually saved, but non-christians reading this book might say, "Yep, yep...we knew it all along. Those Christians!" It's frustrating.
There are also many things I do like. The story itself is beautiful through its starkness. There is a message of hope and freedom in it. There is also a religious figure who is loving and God-honoring who never ends up compromising his own faith. There are also no sex scenes. Hooray for a contemporary book with no sex scenes! I'd say proceed with caution, but proceed.

Wow, remember how this was supposed to be short and snappy and reviewlet-like? So, maybe I can't stop myself from talking a lot. It's my blog...so there! Hope you enjoyed reading!


CrossEm said...

I am with you in the minority group of People-Who-Love-Books-Written-as-Correspondence-(or-Diaries.)

BerlinerinPoet said...

Really? I didn't know! Now I know why we are friends. Well, that and turtlenecks...and how we both HATE circus peanuts. haha

Shostagirl said...

I'm so happy you liked Purple Hibiscus! It's one of my very favorites. As far as the time it is set in... I can send you more about this if you want. Basically it includes political events directly related to real events that happened over a period of time (50 years?). So the events in the book were real, just put closer to each other in time. I think I need to read this again.

BerlinerinPoet said...

Yes, please do!
I noticed there was at least one name that I probably could have googled, but I didn't. So, if you'd like to elaborate.